The Best CPUs for The RTX 2060

written by jacob tuwiner Jacob Tuwiner

Here’s the deal:

Your CPU will make or break your new PC build. The RTX 2060 is a powerful graphics card, and needs to be paired with the appropriate CPU to maximize price to performance.

Spend too much, and you’re wasting money - spend too little, and you’ll suffer performance hindering bottlenecks.

But remember, there’s no such thing as the ‘best CPU’, only the best CPU for you.

To help you get the best bang for your PC building buck, I’ve rounded up the best CPUs for the RTX 2060.

Let’s dive in:

3 Best CPUs for 2080 Ti Graphics Card

CPU Image Benefit See Price
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 ryzen 5 3600, another great cpu for the gtx 1070
  • Top Pick
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Intel Core i5 9400F intel core i5 9400f, another great cpu for the rtx 2060
  • Runner Up
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AMD Ryzen 5 1600 AF (12nm) best cpu for 2060
  • Budget
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How to Choose a CPU

There is no such thing as the perfect CPU. For every build, there are countless CPUs to choose from.

The key is to find a CPU that is in your budget, won’t bottleneck other components, and meets your personal needs.

If you do a lot of streaming or rendering, you might want to consider stepping up to an option with more cores.

Conversely, if gaming is your sole task, then you can save some money and get something with fewer cores.

If you still need help finding the right CPU for you, check out the article here.

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Great gaming CPU
  • High core count
Cons
  • Doesn’t match intel in gaming
  • Mediocre overclocking
  • No integrated graphics
Clock
3.6GHz
Boost
4.2GHz
Cores
6
TDP
65W
Type
Zen 2
Cooler
Yes

Our pick for the best CPU to pair with the RTX 2060 is the Ryzen 5 3600. With a price tag of less than 200$, the 3600 offers unheard-of performance in that price range.

It comes in with six cores and 12 threads, which are more than enough for most new AAA titles today. The Ryzen 5 3600 is no slouch when it comes to speed either, with a base clock of 3.6 GHZ and the ability to boost up to 4GHz.

As for overclocking, the 3600 isn’t the best, but it still packs quite a punch. The included cooler will keep it cool for light overclocks, but those chasing super high speeds should consider a larger air cooler like the Noctua NH-D15 or an AIO like the corsair h100i.

This CPU also uses the new AMD x570 chipset, which comes with a bunch of nice-to-have features. But if you want to go a cheaper route, this CPU will run on any AM4 board as long as the BIOS is up-to-date.

One thing to keep in mind before buying this CPU is that Ryzen does run a lot better with faster RAM. So try and look for a kit that is at least 3000mhz. If you can afford it, 3600mhz is ideal.

What’s the bottom line here?

The Ryzen 5 3600 is undoubtedly the best choice for the RTX 2060.

Pros
  • Cheaper than R5 3600
  • Better per-clock vs AMD
  • Plenty of cores
Cons
  • Poor cooler
Clock
2.9GHz
Boost
4.1GHz
Cores
6
TDP
65W
Type
Coffee Lake
Cooler
Yes

Our runner up to pair with the RTX 2060 is Intel’s Core i5 9400F. Sporting the same core count as the Ryzen 5 3600, It offers a great alternative at a slightly lower price.

At its price point, the i5 9400f is a great alternative to the 3600. It is very similar to the 3600 boasting the same core count and very similar boost speed.

While the base clock might be significantly slower, don’t let this fool you because, under heavy loads like gaming, the boost speed is what matters.

This CPU comes with the same old box cooler that intel has included for ages and ages. While this isn’t a great cooler, it doesn’t matter because this CPU doesn’t support overclocking.

The i5 9400f does have the number of cores as the 3600, offering only six threads. This discrepancy doesn’t make a big difference in gaming performance, but IF you’re streaming a lot, you might miss the extra threads.

The Core i5 9400f is an excellent choice for those who want Ryzen 5 3600 like gaming performance on a tighter budget.

Pros
  • Best gaming CPU for the money
  • Dude it's dirt cheap
  • Pairs perfectly with GTX 2060
Cons
  • Can't overclock past 4.0 GHz
Clock
3.2GHz
Boost
3.6GHz
Cores
6
TDP
65W
Type
Zen+
Cooler
Yes

The Ryzen 5 1600 AF is one of the most exciting CPUs to hit the market in recent years. This CPU is an updated version of the Ryzen 5 1600.

The main difference being that the 1600 AF uses the newer Zen+ architecture.

So as far as specs go, this CPU is on paper the same as the original 1600 released in 2017: six cores, 12 threads, and a base clock of 3.2GHZ.

The one advantage that the 1600AF has over the original 1600 is its overclocking potential. Based on the newer architecture, it reaches higher clock speeds than the original 1600.

The most fantastic selling point of this CPU is its price. At under 100$, this CPU provides never-before-seen value at this price range. The only problem with having a price tag this low is that when in stock, the 1600AF sells incredibly fast.

So if you’re not one of the lucky ones to find this processor in stock, consider picking up the Ryzen 5 2600.

Is the RTX 2060 a Good Graphics Card?

The RTX 2060 is a great choice if you’re looking to get into Ray-tracing at the lowest price possible.

It also makes a great mid-range gaming card and will handle 1080p 100hz+ and 1440p no sweat. If you are looking for 4k, however, the 2080 TI will better suit your needs.

The RTX 2060 is also about 45% more potent than its predecessor, the GTX 1060. If you want to save some money, you could look for a used 1070ti that would give you the same performance at a fraction of the cost.

For what you’re paying, the RTX 2060 is a great value. It can make a great addition to a current build and is an excellent choice for a brand new system.

Will an i5 Bottleneck an RTX 2060?

Yes, and No. New i5’s that include six cores and six threads should not bottleneck 2060.

However, the older i5 processors that have only four cores will most likely result in a bottleneck with the 2060, especially in newer games, because they better leverage multi-core processors.

What’s the bottom line here?

Any eighth-generation Core i5 or newer should not cause a bottleneck, and just about any Ryzen 5 CPU won’t bottleneck either.

Will a Ryzen 5 Bottleneck an RTX 2060?

No, pretty much all of the Ryzen 5 CPUs are great options to pair with the RTX 2060 across the board.

AMD has stepped up to the plate with their Ryzen CPUs, giving Intel a run for their money. It used to be that you could pair any i5 with the latest graphics card and you’d be alright.

Now, it’s the other way around - just about any Ryzen 5 CPU will do, but you have to think twice before choosing an Intel model.

Compare CPUs

If you want to compare different CPUs to help you decide which is best for your 1060, here are some awesome resources for you:

Those links should help!

RTX 2060 Review

Here is a review of the RTX 2060 from Linus Tech Tips:

Conclusion

Ryzen 5 chips provide a terrific bang for your buck, and are the logical choice for the RTX 2060.

Remember, there is no such thing as “the best CPU”, only the best CPU for you. Hopefully this guide helped you!

If you still have any questions, you can get in touch with me here, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!